If you need help finding love, send an SOS to the universe and maybe love will find you.
A Scottish widower yearning for companionship recently tried that approach, launching messages in bottles into the water in the hopes a kindred soul would respond. He stopped the project when he was criticized for polluting local rivers and beaches, but his quest has people responding from all over the world.
“Boy, have I learned all the twists and turns of the human heart in a wonderful and inspiring way,” Craig Sullivan, 49, told TODAY.
Sullivan’s wife passed away from cancer 18 months ago, a loss he’s been slowly recovering from with counseling and the support of friends, he wrote in an online post last month. But he realized his life was incomplete.
“I am lonely,” he shared. “I miss the simple acts of companionship… doing things together we love. Sharing a meal together. Noticing and being noticed. Helping each other. Talking.”
Sullivan wanted to find love again, but without having to use the “less elegant” option of online dating or matchmaking services.
Two fateful events spurred him into action. First, he read “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” an essay by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who hoped her spouse would find the right person for “another love story” after she died of ovarian cancer.
Then, he heard “Message In a Bottle” by The Police play on the radio, with lyrics describing “more loneliness than any man could bear” and a desire to send “an SOS to the world.” A plan was hatched: He would set adrift not one message in a bottle, but 2,000, while driving around the U.K.
“I don’t have expectations that this will lead somewhere or that it has to have a romantic conclusion,” Sullivan wrote. “I know that connections and friendships will begin, wherever they get washed ashore.”
The project soon attracted controversy when a number of bottles did wash ashore, annoying local residents who considered it littering. Sullivan was reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and he stopped releasing his messages when he found out about the concerns, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, he’s received dozens of responses from women interested in getting to know him, he told the network.
For potential love interests curious about him, Sullivan describes himself as “reasonably attractive,” and someone who appreciates “tenderness, closeness and affection.” Born in Scotland, he now lives in London with his teenage daughter, two cats and two dogs. He runs a small consultancy firm and often works from home.
The romantic project has drawn international attention, with Sullivan receiving messages of support from Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Portugal, Greece, China, Japan, Korea and the U.S., he wrote. People often share their own stories of losing a spouse, struggling with grief and disliking online dating.
“Getting dates was amazing, but all the stories and shared troubles were the real news story here,” he told TODAY. “There's a lot of people looking for their own bottle.”